Enna as warrior: Looking back at my first draft, I didn't have Enna's encounter with the Tiran scouts from last chapter or this scene with Finn and Razo practicing swordplay. A scene like it took place later. This section was the most difficult of all the book, though the book generally was a tough nut to crack. But figuring out Enna's arc in part 2 was tricky, how the power builds, what events help shape it, how she feels about and reacts to those events, where her relationships are with the others.
My sister died in a car accident just over 11 years ago. (I was probably on draft 6 or 8 of Enna Burning at the time.) It was rough, and a month later Dean and I took a last minute trip to Thailand. I needed a change of scenery. For the whole week I managed not to think about much. But I remember in the airport waiting to fly home, sitting down with a notebook and talking through with Dean the events of part 2, trying to break these chapters, figure out what needed to happen and when. I'd rested. I was still heartbroken. But I was ready to start writing again. Rewriting is problem solving. I couldn't bring back my sister. But I could solve this problem.
It's hard to explain why some books are trickier than others. Sometimes I just start wrong (Calamity Jack). Sometimes the character is so quiet, she takes a long time to tell me what her story really is (Forest Born). Often it's because I'm trying to write a book I don't know how to write yet. Enna Burning is not a traditional structure. Although I'm playing with some strong archetypes, it's not quite like any other book I've written or read.
The amazing, prolific, ground-breaking Jane Yolen read Goose Girl when it first came out and praised it on her blog, which I read regularly at the time. I was so gleeful. Then a year later, she posted that she was reading Enna Burning. (I just tried to google that post and couldn't find it, but from my memory...) She wrote she was in the middle of the book and thought the writer had gotten herself into a place she wasn't going to be able to write herself out of, and that she wasn't as much a fan of this book as the first. I was heartsick.
I met her for the first time some years after that. As we talked, she said she liked my books, and I said I'd seen that she hadn't been as pleased with Enna Burning. (can you believe I said that? I hope it came up naturally in the conversation! I can't remember.) She said, oh no, only when I was in the middle of the book. But you pulled it off.
In an interview last year, Jane Yolen named Enna Burning one of her favorite novels. (I just found this while googling for that blog post! Jane Yolen rox.)
#brag #braggin #shamlessbraggingbragbrag
My point of all that was to say, I think in some ways, this is a writer's book. It's kind of been my black sheep. But for whatever reason, more writers seem to like it. If you don't, that's not to say you're not a writer. I've just found that of this book's ardent fans, most seem to be writers themselves. Maybe we enjoy watching other writers take on impossible stories and walk that tightrope.
Esa asks, "On your website (I think) you said that the title "Enna Burning" has a slightly different meaning in each of the four parts of the book. Did you think about the four different meanings when the book was separated into the four parts, or did you only realize what each part meant later?" I didn't name the book till late, but I did split it into these four named parts fairly early. Part of the reason I loved the title Enna Burning once I thought of it was because how it played with the meaning of the part titles differently.
Sally asks, "do you ever feel that Razo snuck his way into the story for the comic relief side of things?" THat's possible, I can't remember. What I do remember is when I was struggling in rewrites, I realized I didn't fully understand Enna's relationships with some of the characters, except with Razo. I always knew what their friendship was. I always knew how he stood with everyone. He is such a refreshing character to write because he doesn't hide things from me. Razo is Razo.